A TIGER FREE WILDLIFE SAFARI TO SATPURA NATIONAL PARK! MADHYA PRADESH, INCREDIBLE INDIA!
This blog chronicles my experience of the offbeat Satpura National Park in Madhya Pradesh, Incredible India .I spotted wildlife like bison, bear, spotted deer and other species here. A trip to Satpura National Park allows you solace, peace and better understanding of the unique flora and fauna of Madhya Pradesh.
I reached late night in my resort near Satpura National Park. The dusty road to the resort was mostly pitch dark. The night was illuminated only by the flicker of lights from a passing train and the lights of people’s homes and resorts in the vicinity. After a light dinner, I pulled a chair at the balcony of my 1st floor room. I sat there alone, staring at the dance of a full moon on the calm waters of the mighty Denwa river. The wide river separates the forest from the settlement, making this place an ideal place for wildlife conservation. As man animal conflicts are on a rise in wildlife parks across India and beyond, such secluded wildlife havens are the need of the hour. The scattered rays of the moon and the silence of the place triggered deep conversation between me and the nature
Impatient to see the forest in daylight, I got down for a post prandial walk in the campus of the resort. I was all ears to catch any wildlife sounds. It did not happen. What stopped me in my tracks though was a big colorful toad on the side of pathways. The toad didn’t move as I approached.
I bent down to admire the beauty of the toad who unflinchingly remained glued to the floor, pretending to be a statue. The exterior of the toad’s body in many hues of green looked like the bird’s eye view of a dense forest. This set the mood for my morning safari the next day. It was way past midnight. Before I called it a day, I stared at the silvery waters again. Few more hours and I would be crossing this river for safari.
The Satpura reserve can be reached through Madhai gate by a picturesque route. The only way it can be accessed is taking a boat ride through the voluptuous Denwa river. I can’t recall any other wildlife reserve with an entry as dramatic and scenic as this. I was told it is easy to spot Gaur, Malabar squirrel, leopard and sloth bear here apart from the ubiquitous deer species. However, the immense beauty of the forest hijacked my desire to spot wildlife.
Before we boarded the engine powered boat, I took a solo early morning walk around the river. It was still a little dark when I started. The crisp, fresh air, silence and solitude were therapeutic to my body and mind ravaged by the city life. As I ruminated along the bank of Denwa, the sun spilled its colors lyrically in the sky and water. It was one of the most picturesque sunrise I have ever seen. The previous night Denwa wore a silvery sheen. In the morning, it turned into liquid gold. I am impressed with the aesthetic sense of nature.
As we crossed the river, we were ushered into a jeep on the other side. The vast grassland greeted us. Spotted deers ruled the land on either sides of the track. Langurs monkeyed around in the tall grasses. A crocodile baby’s snout stood out amidst the abundant white lotus in the pond. Exotic birds played around and added color to the brown and green landscape.
The open grasslands gave way to narrow path as we progressed our way in the jungle. Surrounded by tall trees on either sides of the track, the forest revealed its secrets to us slowly. Suddenly the driver halted and we stopped our conversations. We trained our eyes on a big ball of unkempt fur moving languorously through the undergrowth. Our hearts skipped a beat as we realized that it was a sloth bear who feeding solo near a huge pond. Reluctant to expose his face to us, the bear ignored our presence insultingly and moved on with his/her early morning routine. We stared meditatively from a safe distance as the sloth bear vanished in the thick forest. Apparently, black sloth bears are easy to spot in Satpura.
A little ahead, we discovered a large group of gaur robbing trees of its leaves. The largest bovine species of the world, gaur is known for its Herculean strength. I did only one safari which explains why I was unable to spot other wildlife. Some of the other species found in Satpura National Park are: Tigers, black bucks, Chital, chinkara, mousedeer, barasinga, nilgai (Blue Ox), fox, dholes, leopard, wild boar, crocodiles, porcupine, Flying fox, hornbill, Indian muntjac and peacocks.
Satpura which is a deciduous forest boasts of an impressive variety of plants, trees and shrubs in abundance. Narrow gorges, lakes, ponds and ravines form Satpura’s landscape. Satpura Hills in the backdrop enhances the beauty of the moist and dense forest. Our guide showed us an interesting tree.
The Ghost Trees (Local name: kulu)appears like ghosts looming large in forest on full moon. On full moon and starlit nights, its shiny white bark glows. However, much of the white bark is covered in light pink wafer thin external bark. The external bark clings on to the main body, threatening to peel off any time. The ghostly glow appears on the white bark of the tree. Our guide handed us over a specimen so that we can feel its delicate and smooth texture. He also asked us to rub the leaves of a lavender plant and smell it. The delicate smell grew on me in no time.
Another tree commonly found in Satpura National Park is Saaj. Its coarse bark looks like the skin of crocodile, hence it is also called as Crocodile Bark Tree. Tendu, sal, mahua, teak, bel and other trees also dot the landscape of Satpura National Park.
Tiger spotting was not on my agenda when I planned a trip to Satpura. So often, we lose out on the opportunity to appreciate the jungle and its other inhabitants in our desperate rush to spot tigers. This trip encouraged me to indulge in more tiger free safaris. Spotting a tiger in the wild is amazing. No second thoughts on that. However, stressing over sighting a tiger in wild makes the safari experience one dimensional.
Satpura is special because it is still not commercialised like the more famous National Parks of India. The cherry on the cake is that the cellular network is patchy here. Instead of posting about my trip live from the destination, I would rather lose myself in the tranquility of the place. As our jeep was about to leave the forest, a sambar looked at us curiously from a raised ground. We bid adieu to the forest with lasting memories.
The view from my #SoulWindow is serene!
Quirky Wildlife Facts:
- Sloth bears, armed with long claws, pull ants, termites and beetles with their long lips making a snuffling sound as they munch on the bugs.
- Female sloth bears carry their young ones on their backs.
- The tallest species of wild cattle, gaurs are the strongest bovine species, weighing upto 1500 kgs.
- Thanks to their muscle power, Gaurs are known to kill aggressive tigers.
- Male Sambars have antlers which are shed annually.
FACT FILE FOR SATPURA NATIONAL PARK:
Best Time to go to Satpura National Park: The park is open from October to 15 June.
How to reach Satpura National Park: Bhopal is the nearest big city and is well connected via train, bus and flight. From Bhopal, one can book a cab to Satpura National Park. Piparia and Sohagpur are the closest railhead at 55 kms and 20 kms respectively.
Excursions from Satpura National Park: The offbeat Hill Station Pachmarhi is nearby. Clubbing both Satpura and Pachmarhi makes sense.
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